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U-turns are seldom fatal – but can be a symptom of overconfident governments | Politics News


This is one of the fastest turnaround actions ever taken by a new government. But then the new British cabinet is in a hurry.

Liz Truss was sworn in as prime minister in Balmoral on September 6. Almost immediately mourning The Queen was suspended from politics for two weeks.

Shortly after it was resumed, the new Prime Minister of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng announced his financial plan to MPs on September 23, including the top income tax cut.

Just 10 days later, on Monday, October 3, he tweeted early before breakfast: “We get it, and we’ve listened… I’m announcing we’re not going ahead with tax repeal 45p rate.”

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British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Exchequer Prime Minister Kwasi Kwarteng attend the annual Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, England, October 2, 2022. REUTERS / Hannah McKay
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The prime minister and the prime minister turn their heads to overshadow the Conservative Party conference

The turnaround was a huge embarrassment for the new team on the opening day of the Conservative Party’s annual conference – made worse by the new prime minister’s public comparisons to the Iron Lady and the measures. her economic liberalization.

Turning back has been a dilemma for British politicians since the 1980s Tory Conference when Margaret Thatcher’s speechwriter, Sir Ronnie Millar, hurled at her cunning words. : “You come back if you want, the lady is not for filming.”

On the other hand, political history shows that turning around doesn’t necessarily make things worse for a pragmatic democratic government that really “listens” and takes the opportunity to change course.

Bill Clinton, a president known for his versatility on many big issues, asserts that “flip-flops,” as Americans call them, are useful because they give voters hope that their leaders will they can stay true to their point of view.

Over time, virtually all parties “implemented a 180-degree reverse policy”. See how the Conservatives and Labor have changed their stance on social issues, such as gay rights and the death penalty, and changed their attitudes as members of the European community. Europe.

These changes take place over many years, as a result of following the flow of history. They don’t turn around, although they can sometimes have defining moments – such as Labor leader Neil Kinnock’s modernization switch against unilateral nuclear disarmament.

A classic turn of events occurs, like this week, when ministers repeatedly emphasized that they had a great new idea only to abandon it a few days later because others had pointed out that it was not viable. exam or simply bad.

Often, the best tactic for the minister is to accept the objection and try to move in a different direction.

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PM defends tax cut reversal

Tony Blair’s government has been forced to turn frequently in a “crime hard, crime cause hard” line.

There are people who turn away from introducing ID cards and march to bring offenders to withdrawal points to pay fines on the spot.

New Labor argues that thwarted efforts are no less than strict enforcement of the law and the reputation of order.

But Gordon Brown looked weak forever after he exposed Labour’s preparations for a general election in the fall of 2007 and denied that he had canceled the vote because of deteriorating opinion polls.

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair at the 2007 consignment box
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Both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair turned heads when in power, with different consequences

In 2012, a very senior official spoke of George Osborne’s plan to introduce VAT on “hot takeout and bakery food”.

The smile on his face was wiped off as newspapers called it a “fake tax” and protesters, from Greggs bakery to Labor campaigned against a “out of touch” government.

The tax was dropped in reverse within a few weeks.

Osborne tried to document his change of heart. This can sometimes be a mistake.

Nick Clegg deliberately opposed the Liberal Democrats’ opposition to college tuition as a demonstration of his loyalty to the Conservative Party alliance. Liberal Democratic Party voters saw it as a betrayal.

Clegg eventually turned the tide once again by issuing an apology, which was set to music and became a social media meme.

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 18: Prime Minister George Osborne speaks alongside the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss at an event at the National Composites Center in Bristol and Bath Science Parks on April 18, 2016 in Bristol, England.  In his speech, he warned that the UK would be forever poorer outside the European Union before the referendum on membership on June 23. A report issued by the Department of Public Finance claims the cost of leaving the EU could cost one household the equivalent of ,4,300 by 2030. .  (Photo by Matt Cardy - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
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George Osborne had his first time in government, long before Liz Truss took power

It can also be a mistake for a leader to try to pretend that it doesn’t really matter when they turn around.

During the 2017 general election campaign, Theresa May made a popular move when she abandoned her widely criticized “dementia tax” plan to pay for social care.

But she became the laughingstock after repeatedly mumbling “nothing has changed!” at a televised press conference after she changed the policy.

Read more: Liz Truss’s month of chaos

The Prime Minister and the Prime Minister do not seem to have learned many lessons from previous ups and downs. Their first reaction was to try to downplay the importance of their policy.

Unlike many of their tax relief proposals, it was not followed by Truss during the leadership campaign.

The Prime Minister admitted that he had not informed other colleagues in the cabinet in advance that he would make the announcement in 45 minutes.

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He has since stated that it has not been the focus of his small budget as he estimates that it will represent a relatively small £2bn of the more than £45bn loss. he intends to perform in the balance sheet of the country.

The problem for Kwarteng is that the top tax rate cut is the symbolic cherry on the pie in his “growth” wealth creation scheme. It was not revealed in advance because he knew it would be controversial and miscalculated that it would also be an ideological blow.

He is an economic historian and his proposed cuts were a deliberate echo of the famous top rate cuts by Nigel Lawson, Mrs Thatcher’s chancellor, in 1988.

Unfortunately, the markets reacted poorly, seeing it as a hollow imitation of the “Lawson boom” because the economic circumstances were completely different back then.

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Moment Chancellor Ule on tax rate

The prime minister and prime minister were forced to abandon their flagship policy as it became clear that Conservative MPs would not vote tax cuts for the rich through parliament during this cost-of-living crisis.

The atmosphere is lifted in Birmingham as representatives can resume normal business operations, no longer preoccupied with defending political force majeures.

Afterwards, Kwarteng and Truss made it clear in their pre-conference speech that they intend to pressure “Trussonomics,” so prepare for their next move.

Ministers have recently used a lot of political capital at the behest to keep options open whose benefits can be increased to less than the rate of inflation. This would break Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak’s commitment and generate significant savings.

Read more:
Is there a way back to Truss from the 45p tax cut rollback?
Truss’s turn will cause many to criticize her at the Tory party
The Tory Conference is shrouded in gloom – has Liz Truss already decided her own destiny?

It is clear that Conservative MPs will not support this measure either.

Senior figures opposed to the move such as Grant Shapps, Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith have now been joined by cabinet ministers including Penny Mordaunt, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Robert Buckland.

Despite the outcry, the government has yet to confirm what it plans to do about the benefits upgrade or whether it will make an announcement or publish the OBR report by November 23.

U-turns can rarely be fatal, but they are often a sign of an incompetent or overconfident government.

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